Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a recent briefing on COVID-19 — Photo by Edwin Torres/Courtesy: Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
New Jersey restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting Friday, Sept. 4, ahead of Labor Day weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
The governor announced the news on social media and later at his daily press briefing, more than five months after he ordered the statewide shutdown of bars, restaurants and other establishments as COVID-19 spread through New Jersey. The order is effective 6 a.m. Friday, providing another incremental step for one of the state’s key industries and an important segment of tenants within the commercial real estate sector.
“Of course this resumption of indoor dining will come with strong limits on capacities as well as other requirements, which will be strictly enforced,” Murphy said at the afternoon briefing in Trenton. “As we all know, this pandemic isn’t over yet and our goal is to ensure this step is done properly to prevent the kind of spikes we saw in other states that allowed their restaurants to reopen too fully and too quickly — steps which required us to hit the pause button on our earlier plan to allow indoor dining to resume.”
With restaurants restricted to takeout and delivery at the height of the outbreak, the state permitted them to open for outdoor dining in mid-June. Murphy’s team originally considered allowing establishments to resume indoor dining ahead of July 4, but postponed the decision amid spikes in other states that had already done so.
Murphy went on to outline several requirements for restaurants wishing to offer indoor dining starting Friday, including:
- Social distancing must be in place, with six feet between tables
- Staff must wear masks at all times
- Diners will be required to wear masks at all times when they’re not seated
- Diners must also wears masks while waiting for their food and when finished eating and drinking
- Windows must be opened to ensure a proper flow of fresh air into the dining areas
- Air conditioner units must be turned so that they’re allowing for the maximum amount of outdoor air to be introduced to the dining area
Murphy on Monday also signed an executive order to allow movie theaters and other indoor performance venues to reopen Friday at either 25 percent capacity or 150 people, whichever is less. Patrons must wear face masks and practice social distancing.
NEW: Restaurants statewide will be able to open for indoor dining beginning this FRIDAY at 25% capacity and with social distancing between tables.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 31, 2020